When some immigrants come to the United States, they have faced unbearable hardships in their native countries. They have endured some of the worst conditions known to man – and are now escaping the torment of their past to start a bright future in a new nation. U.S. immigration law offers special protections for victims of persecution known as asylum or refugee status. Persecuted immigrants who have already reached U.S. soil may qualify for asylum.
Who Is Eligible To Apply For Asylum
Asylum is a special immigration status awarded to those who are afraid to return to their home country for fear of further torment and persecution. There are a relatively few number of immigrants who qualify for aslyee status.
Personal requirements for asylum
Every year people come to the United States seeking protection because they have suffered persecution or fear that they will suffer persecution due to:
- Race – your skin color, ethnicity, background, and personal characteristics.
- Religion – your faith and religious practices, whether recognized or not.
- Nationality – which country you are from and your ethnic background
- Membership in a particular social group – if you belong to a group that the government perceives as a threat
- Political opinion – your political and social beliefs and activities.
The definition of “persecution” is somewhat loose and subject to a case-by-case evaluation. Additionally, certain other definitions, such as “membership in a particular social group,” are also ill-defined so having an asylum attorney in Austin review your particular case is especially crucial.
Immigration requirements for asylum
Essentially, refugee and asylee status are the same concept – the only difference is where are actually located when you apply for your immigration status. If you are currently outside of the United States, you would be apply for refugee status.
If you are currently located within the United States, you would apply for asylum. To apply for asylum in the United States, you may ask for asylum at a port-of-entry (airport, seaport, or border crossing), or file Form a I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal.
You must apply for asylum within one year of your last arrival in the United States.
If you have been in the U.S. longer than one year, you still may be able to apply for asylum if you can prove there were special circumstances that prevented you from applying earlier. Such conditions include large changes in your own life or changes in the conditions of the your home country.
Special Considerations For Asylum Eligibility
You still may be able to for asylum if:
- You are in this country illegally.
- You have a green card (lawful permanent residency)
- You have a valid visa
- You have been convicted of a crime (however certain convictions render you ineligible)
Be certain to disclose your full criminal history, as failure to do could result in perjury charges.
Appealing an asylum denial is not an easy task. To have the Board of Immigration Appeals accept your appeal, you must demonstrate that there are changed circumstances that materially affect your eligibility for asylum. Your application will also be denied if there is a chance you could be moved to another third country that is safe. Contact us for more information.
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